I think that expression is important for all people, but especially for women. For so much of our lives, we learn to be quiet, to take up as little space as possible, to call less attention to ourselves. Women are much more likely to apologize when they bump into something, to the point that women will apologize to inanimate objects; men are more likely to believe that something got in their way. This constant apologizing, basically for existing, takes a toll on the way we express ourselves. We are afraid to dress how we want because we don’t want to be judged. We don’t want to speak up at a meeting with an idea because we are intimidated by our much more vocal male colleagues.
We are intimidated. We are hesitant. We forget how to use our voices. But, ladies, our voices are important. Our opinions and ideas matter. It has taken me a long time to realize this.
Do you want to know what helped me find my voice again? Art therapy.
Sure, art therapy isn’t for everyone. But we can use art to express ourselves in a healthy way. If you are angry about something, instead of yelling or throwing things, you can sit down and paint that anger. I like to find pretty tiles and smash them to make mosaics. The smashing part definitely helps channel my anger, and by activating the creative part of my brain instead of the emotional one, I find the focus soothing. It helps me to separate the emotion from the situation and enables me to see things more clearly—sometimes I can even see the other side of the situation and I see that I am actually in the wrong. I am able to gain perspective that I would not have otherwise.
Doing something creatively helps you express even deeply rooted emotions. It is a way to communicate emotions and feelings that we might never have found the right words to speak. Women can use art to find their own voices again, to find a way to speak for themselves in a way that is healthy and beneficial. It promotes emotional well-being. The best part is that you don’t necessarily need to work with a therapist to reap some of the benefits of art therapy, although it can and does help to work with someone if you feel overwhelmed or unsure.
All you have to do is be willing to tap into your creative mind, to stimulate yourself and provide yourself with a healthy outlet. You don’t have to spend hours or a lot of money. I have seen people do everything from sculpting to simply coloring. You only have to show people your creation(s) if you want to, if you think it will help in your healing process, or if you think they should hear what you have to say about it. Putting your art on display is not a requirement to achieving the benefits of art therapy, nor is it necessary to be blessed artistically.
If you find yourself feeling voiceless, sit down with a piece of paper and some paint, or even a crayon or two. Try giving art a try and see what happens. I would love to hear about your results.